A slow burn that does not disappoint.

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BID MY SOUL FAREWELL

From the Give the Dark My Love series , Vol. 2

A necromancer and her paramour uncover the truth about their divided empire.

Nedra, a small-town girl–turned–powerful conjurer of revenants, is feared throughout the Allyrian Empire after killing its corrupt Governor Adelaide. Surrounded by her army of reanimated corpses—including her twin sister, Nessie, who needs other souls to not lose her humanity—Nedra tries to navigate the responsibilities she feels to both them and her homeland. Dabbling with dark forces she does not quite understand, she reaps souls to feed to her sister. Handsome Grey Astor, a wealthy boy from a disgraced family who has been quickly rising through the emperor’s ranks, is desperate to help Nedra. As her swelling feelings for Grey collide with her obligations, Nedra discovers that the truth of her necromantic powers and the history of the empire may just destroy both her and Grey. Nedra is a flawed heroine, both strong and loyal, struggling to control a dark power that could subsume her. Revis’ (Give the Dark My Love, 2018, etc.) thrilling conclusion takes its time building, touching upon nuanced issues like economic disparity and wealth inequality, deliberately building into a white-hot conflagration that smolders with intensity. The ending feels a tad rushed but should nonetheless please with its thoughtful mix of romance, dark fantasy, and exploration of abuse of power. Characters default to white.

A slow burn that does not disappoint. (map) (Dark fantasy. 13-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5951-4719-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning.

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SCYTHE

From the Arc of a Scythe series , Vol. 1

Two teens train to be society-sanctioned killers in an otherwise immortal world.

On post-mortal Earth, humans live long (if not particularly passionate) lives without fear of disease, aging, or accidents. Operating independently of the governing AI (called the Thunderhead since it evolved from the cloud), scythes rely on 10 commandments, quotas, and their own moral codes to glean the population. After challenging Hon. Scythe Faraday, 16-year-olds Rowan Damisch and Citra Terranova reluctantly become his apprentices. Subjected to killcraft training, exposed to numerous executions, and discouraged from becoming allies or lovers, the two find themselves engaged in a fatal competition but equally determined to fight corruption and cruelty. The vivid and often violent action unfolds slowly, anchored in complex worldbuilding and propelled by political machinations and existential musings. Scythes’ journal entries accompany Rowan’s and Citra’s dual and dueling narratives, revealing both personal struggles and societal problems. The futuristic post–2042 MidMerican world is both dystopia and utopia, free of fear, unexpected death, and blatant racism—multiracial main characters discuss their diverse ethnic percentages rather than purity—but also lacking creativity, emotion, and purpose. Elegant and elegiac, brooding but imbued with gallows humor, Shusterman’s dark tale thrusts realistic, likable teens into a surreal situation and raises deep philosophic questions.

A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning. (Science fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7242-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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Fear the reaper(s)…but relish this intelligent and entertaining blend of dark humor and high death tolls.

THUNDERHEAD

From the Arc of a Scythe series , Vol. 2

Death proves impermanent in this sequel to Scythe (2016).

In a world run by the (almost) all-powerful and (almost) omniscient artificial intelligence Thunderhead, only the Honorable Scythes deal permanent death to near-immortal humans. Yet a growing contingent of scythes, feared and flattered by society and operating outside the Thunderhead’s control, are proving rather dishonorable. No longer apprentices, 18-year-olds Citra Terranova and Rowan Damisch realize “the scythedom is…high school with murder” as they watch their fellow scythes jockey for power and prestige. Citra now gleans as Scythe Anastasia, questioning the status quo but also opposing the homicidally enthusiastic “new-order” scythes and their dangerous demagogue. Self-appointed as Scythe Lucifer, Rowan hunts other scythes whom he deems corrupt. Meanwhile, the existentially troubled Thunderhead questions its role as both creation and caretaker of humanity, sworn not to take life but fearing that its utopia will otherwise collapse into dystopia. Nationality and race are minimally mentioned—ethnic biases and genocide are considered very gauche—yet a population that defies death, aging, sickness, poverty, and war risks becoming bleakly homogenous, alleviated only by “unsavories” and scythes. This sequel digs deeper into Shusterman’s complex world and complicated characters, offering political maneuvering, fatal conspiracies, and impending catastrophe via a slowly unfurling plot and startling bursts of action.

Fear the reaper(s)…but relish this intelligent and entertaining blend of dark humor and high death tolls. (Science fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7245-7

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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